My time abroad has come to a close…what an adventure it’s been! While in Madrid, I have learned so much, both in the classroom and around the city. Not only have my Spanish skills improved, but I believe I am more equipped to deal with future situations outside of my comfort zone. One of the most surprising things about my study abroad experience was how much I learned about myself. Being in a new country and not knowing anyone was really challenging, but I was able to adapt and make the most out of my month in Madrid. After this trip, I feel like I know myself better and I have a better understanding of my personal limits.
One thing I wish I had known before going to Spain was how hot it can get in the summer in Europe. Before I went, I looked up the weather and packed accordingly, but I didn’t realize that in mid-June, it would be 100 degrees or higher all the time. Most places in Spain did not have air conditioning, which was another surprise. I should have done some more research because this would have helped me pack in a more efficient manner. I definitely didn’t need to pack extra sweatshirts and could have used the room in my suitcase for more shorts and tank tops!
My advice to other students planning on studying abroad is to research and prepare as much as possible before going abroad. Look up activities to do in your host country and make sure you stop by your bank and get some money in your host currency. This will save a lot of time, the fees will be lower, and you won’t have to stress about figuring that out as soon as you get off the plane. By planning ahead, you can be better prepared and will be able to enjoy your time abroad without scrambling to figure things out at the last minute.
This international experience has opened my eyes to many opportunities. As a business major, there will be plenty of chances to work with international clients, and now that I have completed a summer semester abroad, I feel confident in my ability to work in an international atmosphere. I will be able to incorporate what I have learned about communicating with locals during my time in Spain into my future business endeavors, which is very exciting! This experience has also opened my eyes to the many cultural differences between Americans and Europeans; this will be very helpful in my professional future.
One thing I will miss the most from my time abroad is the Spanish schedule. In Spain, the sun doesn’t go down until 9:30 PM and dinner time isn’t until 9 or 10 PM. I will miss having a whole day to do activities after I got out of class. Even with classes in the morning and afternoon, I still had plenty of time to explore the city and see all the sights before dinner.
Overall, my time in Spain was amazing. Living in the dorm with local students was a fun experience that let me see how the locals live. My art and theatre class were both very interesting and I passed both classes with good grades. It was definitely interesting to notice the difference between classes in Spain and classes in the US, specifically with exams and the grading criteria. I practiced my Spanish not only in class with my professors, but with the administrators at the University of Nebrija and with locals at restaurants and different sights around Madrid. Each day after class, I would explore different areas of the city and attended many cultural events, both with the ISA program and on my own. Some highlights from my trip were attending a flamenco dance lesson and then going to see a professional flamenco show, taking a cable car ride over the city, visiting Egyptian ruins located five minutes away from my dorm, visiting Mallorca and spending some time on the beach, and touring the historic city of Toledo and checking out the cathedrals. Another great experience was attending the World Pride Madrid events around the city during Pride Week. It was awesome to see people from all over the world come together to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. The city was painted rainbow and it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. All in all, it was a great trip and I learned so much! I can’t wait to apply all that I have learned from my study abroad experience into my classes in the fall!